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More interest, more votes
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Forsyth County News

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* For updates and election returns, check back tonight at; and for complete coverage of the election, see the next edition of the Forsyth County News.

More Forsyth County residents are expected to vote in this presidential election than ever before.

Gary J. Smith, chief voter registrar, said up to 35,000 more voters will cast ballots in this election than in previous times. The increase reflects interest in the election, and the county’s population growth.

Large turnout projections and apprehension over Election Day lines have also made early voting week the most popular since the process began in 2004.

It was so popular, in fact, more than 33,500 people in Forsyth voted last week.

Add that to the 14,500 voters who cast in-person and mailed-in absentee ballots between Sept. 19 and Oct. 24 — and about 51 percent, or nearly 51,200 of Forsyth’s 100,500 registered voters, have already voted.

“It’s been the best election, so far, that I’ve seen,” Smith said. “We’ve been voting since Sept. 19 and by now, everyone has been over it so many times ... we’re extremely well-trained. Everyone knows what they have to do.”
Like many early voters, Rick Gunn decided to vote early because “I knew that next Tuesday, the lines would probably be out the door because of how popular this election is going to be.”

Gunn said he waited for only 20 minutes.

“It was great,” he said. “It was very professional, very quick and efficient.”

Teresa Brackett voted early for the first time.

“Usually, I wake up very early and try to get in line very early,” she said. “I was trying to avoid doing that. It worked.”

Brackett said she was happy she decided not to wait until Election Day, adding she was in and out of the county administration building in less than 15 minutes.

“There weren’t long lines or a lot of people, so it wasn’t very congested,” she said. “There were people greeting you at the door, so you knew right away, when you went in, exactly where to go.”

That appears to be the case for most voters, said poll worker Diane Wall.

“Voters were surprised our lines were so low, with all the reports they’ve been hearing about long lines,” she said. “It’s been a good experience all around. It’s been very steady ... we get a couple of breathers, but we get good, steady crowds all day.”

Wall, who has been a poll worker for the past 16 years, has worked for several hours each day. Electronic voting, she said, has been the greatest advancement since she began volunteering.

“It’s much better and much simpler,” she said. “It’s just been a terrific experience, with good folks, efficiency and good teamwork.”

Early voting could help reduce some Election Day lines more than others. In precincts like Sharon Forks, Coal  Mountain and Vickery, more than half of voters have already voted. In Midway, nearly 60 percent have already voted.

Others had lower numbers, with Brandywine, Keith  Bridge and St. Marlo only seeing a 33, 32 and 16 percent turnout.

The wait might be longer, but Smith said with early voting as successful as it was, lines, if any, will be short.

To help cut down on waiting Tuesday, Smith said voters should come prepared, both with a valid form of photo identification and knowledge of how they want to vote.

Voters also need to know where their polling places are. Precinct locations are listed on voter registration cards.
The information is also available on the county’s Web site and a phone bank of volunteers has been set up to take calls with questions on precincts and other voter information.

While reports of long lines for early voting in Cobb, Fulton, Gwinnett and other area counties have been circulating, Smith said Forsyth voting has been a smooth operation and will continue on Tuesday.
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